A New Sense of Confidence (Elena in Nanjing, China)

My summer class in China was the first time that I traveled for a long distance without the supervision of a parent or teacher, and it was nerve-racking. I barely got any sleep the night before I would travel from Traverse City, a small town in Northern Michigan where I grew up, to Nanjing, one of the biggest cities in China. I was living on my own, in a city where I had almost nothing in common with the people around me. Huge cities were completely foreign to me, as I had grown up in a town that only had one stoplight, and where everyone knew everyone else. It’s true that I had program leaders and a host family to help me adjust, but most of the time I was on my own. There were many firsts for me on this trip; first time planning an excursion on my own, first time staying in a hostel, first time taking a taxi by myself. It was scary at first, but as time went on I felt myself becoming more confident. After I returned home, my mom realized that I had changed. She noted that I was more confident when we traveled, that I was more likely to take charge of situations. I noticed some changes as well; I wasn’t as scared being in places far away from my family. I also realized that if I could survive in a city where no one spoke my first language, then I could survive in any city in the United States, and maybe any city in the world.

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